On October 6, 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israeli forces in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights. Our Company Commander said the rumor was the Russians had a division in the air circling the mid-east and we were putting the 82nd on alert and in the air.
He issued orders to draw weapons and the basic load of ammunition from the arms room and we were to join the Pershing missile Battalion when they deployed with warheads.
The Company Commander gave the married personnel time to go to our quarters and make sure our families had their evacuation documentation, rations and understood where they were to go for evacuation. As I drove into the housing area, there was a jeep manned by two MPs driving through the neighborhood with a loudspeaker blaring instructions for all dependents to prepare for evacuation.
Below are two photographs of Pershing Missiles.
My older brother, Wayne, received an honorable discharged from the Army after he returned home from Korea in April 1969. It was several months later that he re-enlisted into the Army because jobs were hard to find.
Weeks after his re-enlistment he received orders for Vietnam. After he told me he received orders for Vietnam, he asked for my good luck charm that kept me alive during my tour in Vietnam. Wayne figured if it got me home it would do the same for him.
My good luck charm is a Peace Sign necklace that Paul Ponce purchased and gave to me in May 1969 while we walked along Highway 1.
I wore the Americal Division insignia when I came home from Vietnam, March 7, 1970, and during my 20 years’ service. The Americal Division insignia has a blue background, represents the infantry, and four white stars which symbolize the Southern Cross. Soldiers wore the unit insignia they served in combat on their right shoulder of their uniform.
I was in the same division and brigade, 11th Infantry, different battalion, as Lieutenant William Calley, arriving one year after the massacre at My Lai. My Lai was in the same province, Quang Ngai, that my platoon patrolled and where 13 of my platoon brothers died. It appeared that the Americal Division insignia that I proudly wore signified to the American public only that I was a “baby killer.” To them, there was no distinction between Calley and others who served in the Americal Division. "Baby Killer" became a popular chant from protesters.
The 11th Infantry Brigade, known as Jungle Warriors, assigned to the 23rd Infantry Division from 1967 through 1971 in the Vietnam War. The brigade was known for its responsibility in the My Lai Massacre too.
Growing up, Wayne and I were close. Our father was a career Army officer, and we moved many times during our childhood years. I believe moving and the military lifestyle made us even closer than most brothers. We attended school together and sometimes the same classroom, played Little League on opposing teams, and got into trouble together.
We enlisted in the Army, me one week before Wayne, and went to Vietnam together on the same airplane sitting side by side. Later we served at the same duty stations, Fort Benning, Georgia, Heilbronn, Germany and Fort Jackson, South Carolina, our first ten years in the Army. Having Wayne with me during those years made my assignments easier and more tolerable.
When I Turned Nineteen Soldiering After the Vietnam War